Cablegate: Project Proposal - 2005 Human Rights and Democracy

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.




E.O. 12958: N/A

REF: STATE 67040

1. SUMMARY: Post proposes to fund a project aimed at
encouraging first-time voters by educating secondary-school
students throughout Croatia about the rights and
responsibilities of citizenship. This project, called "I'm
Voting for the First Time," would be carried out by local
non-partisan NGO GONG. As a young democracy, Croatia suffers
from low voter turnout (around 40 percent at May 15 local
elections) and a lack of understanding of active citizenship,
particularly in areas outside Zagreb and other urban centers.
This first-time voter education project addresses these
issues by filling a critical gap in Croatia's high school
curriculum. There are no other projects meeting this need.
This proposal also supports Post's MPP Performance Goal that
Croatia possess "democratic institutions needed for
integration into Euro-Atlantic institutions" through the
tactic of "assisting NGOs which organize citizen observers
and public education." In addition, the project complements
USAID technical assistance in the areas of fundraising,
self-financing and policy research to sustain GONG as a
legacy mechanism in the area of democracy and electoral
reform. END SUMMARY.

--------------------------------------------- ----

2. Post seeks DRL funds for the project "I'm Voting for the
First Time," a series of 800 educational workshops for 24,000
Croatian high school seniors, 17 to 18 years old, beginning
in the fall of 2005. This program will serve as a basic
element within Croatia's high school curriculum on the right
to vote, the electoral process, and the role of citizens in a
modern democracy. Training materials include brochures and
posters on voting, elections, and public advocacy.

3. Each workshop will consist of three parts:
- Trainers first ask students what it means to turn 18 and
whether they know their new civic and political rights and
duties. Trainers guide students in discussion of their
voting rights, recording key points on flip charts.
) After the students become aware of all the rights and
duties they acquire when turning 18, trainers focus the
discussion on the process of voting, types of elections and
electoral procedures. Trainers address all questions or
misunderstandings students might have concerning technical
aspects of elections.
) Lastly, trainers apply the rights and duties discussed in
the workshop to an example from their everyday life,
illustrating that responsible citizens must also be active
after election day. Students discuss public advocacy issues
that could arise in their community, such as town authorities
closing a popular youth club. Participants explore how they
could react to the closure, whom they could contact or meet,
and how they could organize a public initiative or petition
to get media attention.


4. Founded in 1997, GONG is non-partisan and dedicated to
promoting free and fair elections, educating citizens about
their rights and duties, and promoting dialogue between
government and constituents. The organization,s work in
promoting active public participation in the democratic
process is highly regarded and GONG has shared its experience
with similar organizations throughout SE Europe and among the
Newly Independent States. GONG is also well known for its
election monitoring capacity, which has included training
Iraqi election monitors and participating in a European
election monitoring mission in Ukraine.

5. It is important to note that "I'm Voting for the First
Time" is the result of several years of advocacy by GONG to
convince the government to allow their trainers, primarily
young lawyers, political scientists and sociologists trained
by GONG, into classrooms. This project represents an
opportunity to make instruction on active citizenship and the
fundamentals of democracy a permanent part of Croatian high
school education, something that can serve as a model
throughout the region.

6. To carry out this project, we seek USD 49,985 in DRL
funding. This will be matched by funds already secured by
GONG from other donors.

Budget breakdown is as follows:

DRL funds Matching Total

Program Costs 17,695 34,050* 75,670
(Trainers' fees,
travel, materials,
trainer orientation
and evaluation)

Administrative Costs 32,290 15,360* 52,485
(Partial funding of
project coordinator,
regional coordinators,
financial director;
employer taxes,
postage, office supplies
and rent)

Total Costs 49,985 49,410* 128,155

*Matching funds indicate funds already approved by other
donors. GONG is awaiting response on an additional USD
28,000 grant, which is not yet included in the matching
funds. A complete budget spreadsheet and narrative will be
provided to DRL/PHD Kara Cumberland by e-mail.

7. The overall goal of "I'm Voting for the First Time" is to
educate and encourage young citizens to participate in their
democracy, to introduce civic education into the Croatian
educational system, and to contribute to the development of a
democratic society by informing youth about the importance of
active citizenship and citizens' initiatives. The immediate
goal is to train 42 trainers then deliver 800 workshops
reaching 24,000 high school seniors across Croatia during the
2005-2006 academic year. In addition, this program will
assist GONG in encouraging student participation in its other
projects, such as "Open Parliament" (visiting the Parliament
and meeting MPs) and "Citizens' Hours" (meeting their elected
representatives from the local and national level).

8. In the long term, we expect this program to help develop a
positive attitude among young people toward the political
process and toward a civil society that seeks democracy and
the protection of human rights.

9. Students will emerge from the workshops with a greater
understanding of their role as active citizens in a modern
democracy. As participants share their impressions with
friends and relatives, the program will naturally multiply
its effect, reaching diverse societal groups and encouraging
civic engagement throughout Croatia, particularly in regions
outside of urban centers where there is an acute lack of NGOs
and civic activities. The ultimate impact will be a raised
awareness among citizens in this transitional society that
participation in political processes, from elections to
policy-making, is crucial to further stabilization of

10. September-October 2005: GONG will inform all Croatian
high schools about the project and print educational
materials. GONG will prepare a group of instructors,
assigned by county, to deliver the workshops, ensuring all
have passed the organization's "training for trainers."

11. October 2005-January 2006: GONG instructors will travel
in two-person teams throughout their counties visiting all
contacted high schools under the coordination of GONG's
regional offices. All workshops will take place by the end of
January 2006.

12. February 2006: GONG will evaluate the project, conducting
an evaluation seminar with all trainers and regional offices,
and complete a project report.

13. There will be ongoing evaluation during the project and
an evaluation seminar at the end. The project coordinator
will visit at least one session conducted by each training
team to evaluate and improve their performance. At each
workshop, trainers will collect written evaluations and
comments from each student and teacher. These are then
incorporated with post-training questionnaires submitted by
participating high schools. The project coordinator will
then review these evaluations and update on a daily basis a
data base of all schools, status of workshop delivery,
associated costs, and representative "impressions" from the
evaluations. This allows adjustments to be made throughout

the project and maintains fiscal accountability. Following
implementation, GONG will gather all trainers and
coordinators for an evaluation weekend and discuss project
organization, communication/coordination and results in order
to provide feedback for improvement of the project. These
findings will be published in the project report.

14. We expect that this project will continue on an annual
basis with other (particularly Government of Croatia and EU)
funding. We are seeking DRL funding for the 2005-2006
delivery of the project, while USAID-funded technical
assistance in fundraising and self-financing will assist the
organization in finding new resources to continue the program
in 2006 and beyond.

15. Embassy Action officer will be Political Officer Tom
Selinger, backed up by Political Counselor Vonda Delawie.
Both officers expect to be at post throughout the life of the


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